The Waikirikiri/Selwyn Near River Recharge project

Recharging underground aquifers and augmenting stream flow in the Selwyn water zone.

Supporting the lifeblood of Selwyn and Te Waihora

The Waikirikiri/Selwyn Near River Recharge project is a multi-million dollar scheme to enhance cultural, environmental and recreational values in the region by discharging clean Rakaia River water into the groundwater system near the Waikirikiri/Selwyn River during dry periods.

River Recharge project site

River Recharge project site

Utilising water from Selwyn District Council and Central Plains Water (CPW) consents, the project can pour up to 3.5 cumecs of water from the Rakaia River into a large leaky basin and outflow channel close to the Waikirikiri/Selwyn River.

This water percolates into the ground, recharging aquifers and supporting downstream flow in the Hororata River and Waikirikiri/Selwyn River, without directly mixing water from the two river systems.

The facility was officially opened in September 2020 and successfully commissioned from 11-29 May 2021. Read the full Commissioning Report (PDF file, 44.27MB). We are now collaborating with Central Plains Water Limited (CPWL) to manage the facility and refine its operations. Find out more about this.

See current:

Greendale School students check for pests at the Near River Recharge site

Greendale School students checking for pests at the site recently.

Providing habitat for precious native species

Canterbury mudfish

Kōwaro (Canterbury mudfish)

The springs that feed the lower reaches of the Hororata River are an important habitat for the endangered kōwaro (Canterbury mudfish).

The project aims to increase groundwater levels and flows in these streams during dry periods, creating a better habitat for this unique endemic species.

The edges of the recharge basin have been planted with native seedlings and plant species to encourage native birds to nest nearby.

A lizard habitat has also been created at the site. Greendale School are supporting efforts to protect and restore native species at this site.

A key part of our water management strategy

The Waikirikiri/Selwyn Near River Recharge project is believed to be the largest scheme of its type in the world specifically focused on environmental, cultural and recreational objectives.

It is a key aspect of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, and was recommended by the Selwyn Waihora Water Zone Committee and included in their Zone Implementation Programme Addendum (ZIPA) in 2013.

The Near River Recharge project cost around $2.8 million, funded by Environment Canterbury and the Ministry for the Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund, with Central Plains Water providing in-kind support.

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